Applying for a Passport: What You Need to Know

    A passport is one of the most vital documents you can have. It not only offers a useful form of identification, but it is your ticket to freedom and travel around the world.  The process for application is relatively simple, but can seem daunting if you are a first-time applicant or not used to the system. We have put together the ultimate guide covering everything you need to know to get that valuable passport in your hands.

    Who is entitled?

    You are entitled to a British passport if you have what is known as ‘settled status,’ meaning you are ordinarily resident in the UK with no immigration restrictions on the amount of time you are entitled to stay in the UK. If you already have a passport which describes you as a ‘British citizen,’ you are also entitled to Right of Abode and are classed as settled. This means you are free to apply for a new passport with no restrictions.

    How do I apply?

    There are two main ways to apply for your new passport: online or in person. Applying online is a more straightforward process and will also save you money. The process is simple. The Gov website has all the information you require, and the form is secure to fill in and can be sent quickly. If you decide to go the paper route, you will need to pick up a form from a post office and have it checked and sent off—many post offices can take care of this for a fee.

    Say cheese!

    The photograph is an integral part of the application. The requirements are stringent and must be followed precisely to ensure that your picture is accepted. The background must be plain white and free from any distractions, and the photograph must be straight on with nothing covering your face. It is important not to smile, and make sure you are entirely recognizable and identifiable from the photo. 

    Taking time

    It usually takes on average three weeks to receive your new passport, and this is generally faster if you are renewing an expired passport, or changing your name or photograph. If you need your document sooner, there are options but these come with a cost. There are three main methods of applying for an urgent passport:

    • Paper premium – this allows you to get your new passport around 4 hours after your appointment and can be used for name changes or renewals.
    • Online premium – you will receive your new passport there and then at your appointment, which usually lasts around 30 minutes. This can be used for renewals.
    • One week fast track – your passport is delivered to your home within a week of the appointment. It will need to be signed for so you will need to make sure you are home. This can be used for renewals or name changes, as well as personal details, or to replace a passport which has been lost, stolen, or damaged.


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